I write this from the seat of Delta flight 182, bound for JFK airport in lovely New York. I saw that the weather there today is in the mid-forties, not much of a change from our tour thus far. It was chillier than I hoped it would be in Southern California and it was exactly as chilly as I thought it'd be for the rest of the West Coast leg. I can't wait to be back in NYC, a place I have had mixed feelings about. That was until I visited there the 5th or 6th time in 2008 and fell in love with it. Then, when I went back twice in 2009 and once in 2010, I love love loved it. It's not somewhere I'd ever want live but I want to visit often. We have tonight and all day tomorrow off and I plan to do some 'splorin. And eating and drinking. Now back to SoCal.
We made a stop at In-N-Out burger between KCSN and load-in. Double Double, yo. We diced around the club for awhile until Ricky, Falcon, Steven and I went for dinner to Sake on La Brea. Rad sushi at an affordable price, especially in LA. The yellowfin tuna was fresh that day and melted like butter in my mouth. Roasted Thai chile skewers, octopus, salmon and a couple of avocado-less rolls were on my menu. So damn good. Probably the best sushi meal/experience I've had outside of Uchi in Austin.
The Troubadour was a great night. What a legendary joint? I could see the history in the wear of the benches and barstools. It sounded really good on stage but there was a clinical aspect to the show that I wasn't really into. The appreciative crowd was subdued and it was hard to really get psyched. I think the Lager House show set the bar a bit high in that respect. Some of the Folk Monsters came to the show and crushed brews with us 'til we had to split for Bakersfield. Not only did we want to avoid LA traffic leaving town the next day, we needed to get a leg up on the long drive to SF we had ahead of us.
We got the the Bottom of the Hill (BOTH) an hour early and the sound guy, who turned out to be a talented, nice guy, wouldn't let us in so we stood out on the street for 45 minutes. Load-in, soundcheck, yadda. Falcon and Ricky knew of an oyster bar called Swan so we called a cab. When we got there it was closed for remodeling, which was disappointing. We chose Mayes down the street and it was pretty good. I am allergic to oysters so I got the happy hour rib special which was so god I got a second order. I was hoping that they (both places, in fact) would have fresh shrimp platters but they didn't. WTF? Back to the club to play perhaps the only four band bill of the tour. Someone opened, Mount Moriah played second, Sad Baby Wolf played third and we were on last. The show was sold out and was part of the annual Noise Pop Festival. It was a fun show for sure. Though I shucked one clam on Balcony, I turned in an inspired near-flawless performance (as usual). Got to see my old pal Jesse, a treat as always.
Our hotel was a somewhat notorious rock-n-roll Hotel called the Phoenix. It was in the worst part of San Francisco that I had seen up to that point in my travels. Not the kind of neighborhood you go strolling alone in late at night. Once through the gate and into the courtyard, you find your self in an urban oasis replete with Palm trees and a sweet swimming pool. Definitely a killer hang on a hot day, if San Fransisco even gets those. The room was 70s retro but also seemed like it hadn't been redecorated since I was born. Who cares, we had to get up hella early in order to drive to Portland.
That drive was bogus but we had all made it before so we buckled down/up and hit the road. By the time we got out of town it was 9:30am and barring gas-ups and an Elmer's dinner in Medford, it took us 12 hours to get to Portlandia. Q and Ricky delivered pro performances on the drive, splitting it up more or less 50/50. When we FINALLY got to Jupiter Motel, we threw or bags in the room and commenced to crushing. My dear old friend Kris caught up around the fire pit and before long, Q and Some Guns joined us in getting silly and sideways in our new two-night home.
The next day, Kris and I took a compact jaunt throughout the city, starting with lunch at Pok Pok. This food was amazing. The wings we shared as an appetizer were the best wings I have ever had. I shit you not. Incredible. We also ordered boar collar with chilled mustard greens and grilled prawns, both of which came with a spicy cilantro-lime sauce that gave the food a real zest that is lacking from most Thai food. The only thing I can compare it to is one of the salad dishes (S4 I think) at Madam Mam's in Austin. From there we took the city bus downtown where we made whirlwind visits of both Powell's books and Jackpot Records. I could have spent hours in the bookstore and hundreds of dollars in the record store. Right off the bat, I wanted the Odyssey and Oracle reissue and the Beauregard LP, neither of which I've seen in person. On my agenda of things to do was to go to the revered Stumptown Coffee for some incredible brew. To be honest, my folks at Houndstooth in Austin serve up as good if not better brews. Hype, man. Kris told me that stoner nazi that owned Stumptown sold the whole business so I guess it's no longer the sacred cow I've been reading about in God In A Cup. It was good, don't get me wrong. I just didn't see fireworks and unicorns when I sipped.
Soundcheck, blah blah blah. Had the chance to have dinner with my old friend James who plays bass for Dolorean. He said they've been prompted to write and record an album by May so they'll be going into the studio at the end of April. Considering they haven't written the songs, I expect good things to come out of such a pressured situation. Birds of Avalon wrote and recorded Uncanny Valley in their basement in a short period of time and it is an amazing album. Get in there, crank it out, be done, move on. As John Lennon would say with expeditiousness, "Let's go. The light's on." I'm aware that some of my music projects have not followed such ethos but that doesn't mean I don't believe in or want to practice such concepts. I think my distaste for doing something twice causes me to want to be done with it, once and without much lollygagging. Recording Beat The Band with Tim Easton and the Freelan Barons had such immediacy and it was a very rewarding experience.
I was psyched to be back at the Doug Fir, one of the best venues in the country. Richmond Fontaine came out en masse. Solid! I had a fairly flawless performance, but what's new, right? We loaded out right after he show because they shut the venue down rapido. Some of us stayed up, some didn't, but most of us saw 2am. Ricky and Falcon hazed a couple of the Mount Moriah dudes and it's yet to be confirmed whether they tossed cookies or not. I reckon we'll never know. Got up early so I could have a dece breakfast in the diner. Not only is breakfast the most important meal of the day, I did the math and estimated that we'd be going straight to the radio station and wouldn't be eating until at least 3pm. No thanks.
After a relatively short drive to Seattle, KEXP extracted our best radio performance to date. Those folks are so nice and always have their shit together. Unlike my previous visits to KEXP, this performance was video taped as well. Perhaps you can see it on their website………. After checking into our Executive Inn, I put my feet up and watched the end of Terminator. Totally unbelievable. I mean, Kyle Reese searches for twinkles and protectionin a dumpster after he sticks one of his pipe bombs in the tailpipe of the tanker the Governator is using to chase down Sarah Connor. By the time the bomb blows, the tanker is practically up Sarah's ass and hundreds of yards from Kyle's dumpster. If anything, she would have been the one to have gotten roasted.
Anyway, rainy load-in and a farewell to our swiss cheese van that has transported us over 5000 miles. It was a piece of shit we are happy to be rid of. The Crocodile was a good hang…nice green room, great food, an abundance of C-buds and for me, Red Wine. In honor of the Soul Asylum tradition of picking a random night on tour and drinking red wine, I drank red wine. The only bummer with this was that in Washington state you may not flaunt alcoholic beverages on stage so I had to drink my spicy Spanish out of a solo cup. Not that I'm above that or anything. We had a solid show. I won $20 bucks off Ricky because he dared me to play a certain funk lick in No Future. I understand the arrangement was for only one Jackson, but for the record I played it three times. Immediately after the set we packed up all our gear and put it on a truck bound for the airport. We'll meet back up with it in New Jersey when we get our new rolling fart box that will transport us throughout the tour's third leg. Heh. Much like the walls of our green rooms, this tour has a third leg. On the way back to the motel, I got some fried chicken togo from Five Point and ate it in bed while watching Alien vs. Predator. Possibly the best fried chicken I've ever had. But i need to have Dirty Bird To-Go, Bojangles, and Price's Chicken Coop again before I make that call. Awesome end to a rapid west coast leg. Lobby call 9:30am sharp.